by Beverly Hutchinson McNeff
“…love cannot be far behind a grateful heart and a thankful mind. God enters easily, for these are the true conditions for your homecoming.” (M-23.4:6)
When the holidays roll around, I start thinking of how I can make them more meaningful and less commercialized. As I write this, it is fall in Southern California, but it’s also 90 degrees. It doesn’t feel like Christmas, and yet our local Home Depot store is displaying fully-lighted, artificial Christmas trees and aisles and aisles of outdoor and indoor holiday decorations. Not to mention all the other stores and online outlets reminding me to purchase my gifts before it’s too late!
Yes, the holidays can seem too commercialized! But, what’s wrong with that? It is my choice to get caught up in the judgment of the holidays or to shift my perception to the wonder of the season. I am never going to stop the commercialization of the holidays through my irritation or judgment. I can, however, transform my experience of the holidays by holding onto the message of the season: peace, kindness, love, hope, and good will to all people.
I was thinking of the little bracelets that were so popular a few years ago – the ones with the initials: WWJD (what would Jesus do). Their popularity was more in the traditional fundamentalist churches, but they are not a fundamentalist thought. We should all be thinking WWJD; after all, he was and is a way-shower, an example to live by. He is here to help us.
I began thinking how Jesus would think about the way we portray the holidays – all the commercialism – and I came to the conclusion that he would not judge it, but simply enjoy it. I don’t mean that he would get caught up in spending money or buying things, but I don’t think he would be judging anyone for doing that. Instead, I think he would be smiling at the sales clerks, helping a hurried shopper, and probably not worrying about getting the closest parking place at the mall. I think he would not distance himself from the crowds, but rather be there in the midst of it all – walking in peace and offering his silent blessings. I think he would be grateful to be the spark of love that could help another or feel joyous when he saw someone show kindness. And, when the stress of the holidays caused someone to be unkind, I think he would show compassion, recognizing that their fear was only a call for love – and love was the answer.
I started to realize that it wasn’t so hard to think like Jesus, but the real challenge would to be to act like him. A Course in Miracles says, “It cannot be that it is hard to do the task that Christ appointed you to do, since it is He Who does it.” (T-25.I.1) This statement means that we must want to walk the way of love, but not decide we know where the journey should lead us. We are asked to look at our thoughts of judgment, resentment, anger, and even slight irritation and ask the Holy Spirit for help – so we might see the situation as Christ would see it. Our job is to look and let a new way of responding come into our awareness.
A beautiful prayer in the Course says, “I do not know what anything including this, means. And so I do not know how to respond to it. And I will not use my own past learning as the light to guide me now.” (T-14.XI.6:7) This section then goes on to say, “By this refusal to attempt to teach yourself what you do not know, the Guide Whom God has given you will speak to you. He will take His rightful place in your awareness the instant you abandon it, and offer it to Him. You cannot be your guide to miracles, for it is you who made them necessary.”
This really is a process of releasing and remembering. We need to release our control over the situation and remember the One Who truly is in control – God. Let us accept His Answer and direction through the Guide He has given us, for it will be the one that brings us peace.
How do you know if you are listening to His Voice? How do you feel? The answer is so beautifully given in this passage in the Course:
“How can you know whether you chose the stairs to Heaven or the way to hell? Quiet easily. How do you feel? Is peace in your awareness? Are you certain which way you go? And are you sure the goal of Heaven can be reached? If not, you walk alone. Ask, then, your Friend to join with you, and give you certainty of where you go.” (T-23.II.22:6)
If we want to know God’s will for us, we will. If we want to feel His peace, we will. If we want to experience His love in our lives, we will. For it is here, right now with us. Let this holiday season be an experience of looking at where we spend our time – in judgment or forgiveness, in love or fear.
The choice where we will live is up to us: in the peace of God, accepting every life experience as an opportunity – a holy encounter – or in the pain of the ego expecting circumstances and people to change before we can be happy and at peace. If we begin to look at life from this perspective, is it really that hard to act like Jesus?